Pizza and a Movie: Jurassic World

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Ground Beef (hamburger)
  • Mushrooms
  • Sliced Tomatoes



Jurassic World 

Okay – it was a hamburger pizza, complete with toppings you might put on one, and I guess it was in honor of Father’s Day this weekend. But it was tasty, and lighter than burgers would have been. And then we went to see Jurassic World.

We had gone to see Jurassic Park, I think (or maybe, with four young kids at home then, we rented it), and I had read that book by Michael Crichton. I had read and heard a little about this film (“it was the same story, basically”), and like Jurassic Park, it was suspenseful and scary. But I enjoyed the earlier film a lot more.

Although – don’t get me wrong. I’m as glued to the screen when I see (fake) dinosaurs gobble up people as the next person is. The story line was clever enough, and the little bit of dialogue was okay. But the thing that got me thinking the most was, how did that woman run so far, so long, and so fast in high heels?

A lot has been written recently about the same issue, and before I saw the film, I read the New York Times article Science Weighs in on High-Heels. But until I watched the heroine in action, I forgot about what I’d read. Then, I saw the actress wearing them early in the movie. And I kept waiting for her to take them off, especially after another character pointed them out to her.

But she didn’t – at least, I saw her still wearing them, at the end. If a movie (or book) calls for it, I’m happy to engage in the willing suspension of disbelief for the sake of the story, but I must say that in this instance, I had a hard time with it.

Who runs in high heels, anyway? If I were her and a dinosaur were chasing me, kicking off those heels would have been the first thing I’d have done. I do wear heels (and flats), and the last time I wore heels and regretted not taking them off was a couple of years ago, when I danced for too long at a wedding. My feet and ankles ached for days afterward, and I learned my lesson. I don’t really know why I kept them on that night, but I suspect it was the combination of vanity (I had just bought those shoes) and champagne.

In any case, back to the movie, and to the pizza. My husband seemed to enjoy both, and I don’t think he noticed the high heels marathon – he didn’t remark about it. He rarely takes note of what size heels I wear (even though he’s only a few inches taller than me), but once, he did marvel that I had packed four pairs of beige (nude) shoes of various heel height on weeklong trip to Texas and California. I smiled then and took it as a compliment.

Today, I’m off to a book signing at The Book Worm Bookstore in Powder Springs, Georgia, along with two other authors. I wasn’t sure whether to wear heels or flats, so I compromised. I’m wearing the heels and taking the flats along in case I need them.

But I won’t be running!



The Road Not Taken: Part Two

According to Alison Wolf, author of The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World, as a “graduate mother of four,” I’m an “extraordinarily rare beast.”

Not surprisingly, it’s a label that caught my eye. Having earned an undergraduate degree in economics, then taking several courses towards an MBA (the pursuit of which was halted, once I gave birth to twins), I’m not sure if I qualify in Wolf’s view as a “graduate” mom.

(But even if I don’t, I’ll say I do.)

For my first year of motherhood, I went back to a job I truly enjoyed and for which I was adequately (if not yet extremely well) compensated. It was the 1980s and the industry was IT: I worked for a software developer in Richardson, Texas. Day care was difficult to find (and hard to accept, after I visited the place). My solution: a nanny who arrived at my house at 8 am and left at 6.

Problem solved – for a while. I focused all my energy on my work, both in the office and at home. Of course, my husband helped; with two babies, he had to. But when he was offered a much better-paying position in a different state, I made a decision that Wolf says is rare for women with my educational background.

I took the road less traveled: I became a stay-at-home mom.


Even with my husband’s new job, it meant downsizing; as we simultaneously dealt with a home that was “underwater,” our stress increased. Not everyone understood our decisions, but we came up with a financial game plan (à la Dave Ramsey), and over time, it all worked out. We learned to live on one income – also something rare, according to Wolf – but something that “made all the difference.” *

That income increased over time, and so did our financial stability. We’d always wanted four kids, and our wish came true: when our twin boys were five, their brother was born; three years later, our daughter arrived. [I’ve read that “three is the new two” – as far as the “right” number of kids to have – but for me, baby #4 turned a crowd into a party.** And, well, I like parties.]

Now, our daughter is in college; “the boys” are all in their twenties. The road I took – raising kids (and managing/running a household, with no “outside” help ***) – has ended, and I’ve launched a new career as a writer. Abandoning my professional track years ago had its consequences (many of them described by Wolf), but it’s also had its benefits: more time with my family, [perhaps] less stress, and a happy marriage.

[I’m not saying my marriage wouldn’t be happy, had I kept working outside the home; I’m just saying I didn’t, and it is.]

As for being “an extraordinarily rare beast” – well, I find that to be a little pejorative, even judgy. I never engaged in “The Mommy Wars,” other than to defend my decision to stay home. Wolf refutes a New York Times article’s reference to a group of Atlanta mothers (that I don’t know, but who resemble lots of my friends) as representing an”exodus of professional women from the workplace;” she claims it’s statistically insignificant. Really?

Some (but not the vast majority) of my other friends and relatives, with various levels of education and compensation, continued in their careers when they became moms, without missing a beat, or much of one.

They chose to take the other road.

My jury’s out on Wolf’s latest book. My mother kept working because she felt she had to (while her mother provided free child care), and my daughter just began her university education. [Due to the rise of working women], is the world really far less “equal” for her than it was for me, and for my mom? Must all educated professional women be “like” educated professional men? Are there no other acceptable options? And is there only one route to a “successful” life – no exit or entrance ramps available?

If so, de mon côté, I’m still glad I took the road less traveled.

* The last four words of  The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
** “Two’s company, three’s a crowd, and four’s a party.”
*** I did have “inside” help: my husband has always done the cooking.

Le verre est a moitié vide

I’m a glass-half-empty person, so no wonder I like the French.

France is a nation of pessimists, deux amies françaises averred to me this week. I asked both of them (who don’t know each other) just after I read the recent NYT piece by Jane E. Brody, A Richer Life by Seeing the Glass Half Full.

My husband, however, is a glass-half-full person– not surprising, since in many cases, opposites attract. I’ve always admired his persistence and motivation, two qualities Brody says that optimists usually exhibit. He tackles problems with a focus on solutions, looks for the good in stressful situations, and believes that somehow, everything will work out. Over the years we’ve been together, some of his positive attitudes have rubbed off on me — but not all.

I’m not always “No-we-can’t,” but of the two of us, he’s the idealist and I’m the realist (and, being me, I don’t mean that I’m a realist in a good way). I’m a worrier and always have been. Unlike Brody, I haven’t fretted over the social, political and societal issues that I couldn’t do very much about. I have fretted about family issues that I could do little or nothing to solve, plus all those other things that I could change or fix. And yes, rather than looking on the bright side, I have focused on the worst that can happen.

After reading the article, though, I decided to evaluate whether I’ve evolved from my natural negative tendencies — whether I’ve fait de progrès. As my children grow into adulthood, I think I have, at least as a mom. As a writer, I believe that I have, as well. It’s still sometimes a struggle. I’m not always inspired, but I keep trying, keep writing and keep reading. Developing habits and a routine has helped, which I’ll explain in a future post. Watching and trying to emulate my husband’s work ethic and attitudes has helped a lot, and so has stepping back to focus and re-focus on my goals.

Can I change into a glass-half-full person? I’m working on it. Optimistically, I googled the phrase and discovered a new restaurant to try the next time I’m visiting Chapel Hill: Glasshalfull located in Carrboro, N.C., the town next door. What a nice surprise — and maybe a way to pursue that richer life.

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